Lakshmi is going on and on about inspiration. She tells me that if you have inspiration you will grow this much taller with her hands held aloft. I try to correct her. You grow mentally, not in height, but she likes the new word. She wants to know what inspired her mother when she was young. At some point I switch off, but she keeps pulling me back to reality. I drop her off at school.
The mirror in the ladies at work is in the direct path of the morning rays. On a sunny day every wrinkle, blemish and scar appears multiplied. I suddenly remember myself trying on the new specs frames at the opticians on Tuesday. The day that a month’s worth of rain fell in eight hours. The optician was running late and his windows were leaking. The builders had just finished their refurbishment work and it was his first day back in business. He apologised profusely as he tried to clean up the mess. I told him about my morning drive in the pouring rain in Kavitha’s car. A young Indian guy who I had never met before. After the consultation he chose some frames for me. A bright red one caught my eyes and I tried them on. Between the steaming mask and grey drab day the red shades seemed the perfect solution. “It really suits you”, he encouraged me. Was he just trying to flog unsellable merchandise. He seemed genuine. I can just hear Kavitha’s response, I tell him, “what were you thinking!!”. He laughed and said “it looks good”. Now in the bright sunshine I have a feeling it will look garish. I tell the girls at work, women my age, people I can relate with. Will I look like Dame Edna Everage, Barry Humphries’ alter ego, or Elton John on a bad day, we have a laugh.
Lakshmi is still going on about her inspiration. She tells me about her new friends, Bella, Colla and Dener. They are from far away she tells me and speak ‘Amnestics’ a language only she understands and can have a dialogue in. They are 8, 7 and 4 years old respectively and yet younger than her. It’s strange, she says, but that’s how it is. And I’m Ormonto she tells me, which means she has lots of friends. She sings along to nursery rhymes changing the words to the amnestics’ dialect. She tells me about a rainbow list hidden in her room which at night showers a magic dust over her and takes her to ‘Frozen’ where she has had the fortune to meet Olaf and Anna. It was not a dream, she was sure. Later in the day she has a meltdown moment when she realised that the day is almost over and it was time to prepare for bed. I haven’t had my inspiration today, she whimpers. I remind her of her imaginary friends but it is hard to convince her that it was a form of inspiration.
Lavinia on the other hand is the epitome of coolness. She was with me when crisis struck and stress hormones started getting the better of me. “Are you Ok, Ammamma?”, she asked with a beaming smile every few minutes checking up on my welfare. It was difficult to ignore the calming influence. Later on I gave Lavinia a bear hug thanking her for being the kind caring presence that she was. I wondered how Lakshmi might have reacted if she was the one with me. Lakshmi would have done the same, she replied. I have a feeling she has been here before, a reincarnate of a very wise being.